No matter your sport of choice, rest and recovery are essential after a workout or other physical activity, because the body heals itself during periods of rest. On the other hand, continuous exercise without adequate recovery can put even the most resilient athletes at risk for injury.
Because of their potential restorative power, regular steam showers may be the perfect complement to your existing fitness regimen. For professional athletes and weekend warriors, here are five ways steam may help.
1.Boost aerobic performance
If you want fitness outcomes that last, allowing time for your muscles to recover is a great way to start. One study found that regular steam room sessions may help increase endurance by enhancing blood flow circulation. When we exercise, our body naturally turns up the heat. However, after we break a sweat during a tough workout, steam sessions may help stimulate blood flow to cool the skin and bring more oxygen to the muscles. As a result, the body can build more endurance to engage in physical activity regularly and with more strength.
2. Relieve stress
Whether you’re going for a run to clear your mind, preparing for your next track meet or simply want to boost your cardio game, exercise and stress relief go hand in hand. While steam showers are often touted for their luxury, they can also be a great way to relax after a strenuous workout.
Let’s break it down: Exercise stimulates endorphins, neurochemicals that help reduce your body’s perception of pain. Steam may also boost endorphins as well as other neurochemicals that can elevate your mood and help comfort your body during times of stress.
3. Soothe sore muscles
During endurance sports and activities, your body works tirelessly to keep up with the amount of energy required for a big game or high-intensity workout. Luckily, steam has been shown to lend your muscles a hand in the process. Physical therapists have found that heat soothes nerve endings and warms up the muscles. In turn, tension is released, allowing you to tackle your next workout fearlessly.
4. Help clear toxins
Truth be told, when it comes to improving your physical health, it’s important to take small steps first. Simple strategies after a workout, such as steam bathing or frequent steam sessions, can be that first step.
It’s no secret that we work up quite a sweat during physical activity, and sweat has been found to prompt the release of toxins, including chemical debris, from the body through the skin. But here’s the good news: You may sweat out those toxins without putting forth a load of effort. That’s because incorporating steam into your post-workout regimen may offer your body an extra mode of defense to combat those harmful toxins.
5. Promote easier breathing
For generations, steam has been an effective tool to clear nasal passages and combat the common cold or seasonal allergies. Steam, however, works double duty: It can also be a helpful method for your post-workout recovery. Research has shown that steam encourages respiratory health by helping clear up your airways and possibly making it easier to breathe. No matter what your workout regime entails, paying attention to your breathing is crucial. Not only does proper breathing support the effort you put into exercise, but it also allows you to sustain more control over your movements.
For more reasons to incorporate steam into your fitness routine, check out these ways elite athletes use steam to get a leg up.